That Strange Feeling
Imagine that you’re working on your computer at your desk or your laptop at a coffee shop. Or, maybe you’re on your mobile device like a tablet or smartphone. You’ve been working for a few hours, getting into the groove and feeling good about your productivity. Suddenly, you feel a headache coming on. As you lift your head, you realize you also have some neck pain. And, when you stop using your computer or mobile device, you feel a tingling in your fingers. Could you be experiencing tech neck?
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What the Heck is “Tech Neck”?
These days, more and more people use electronic devices for extended periods, and “tech neck” has become more widespread. Tech neck is the pain accompanied by numbness and tingling in the fingers that occur after using a smartphone or computer for an extended time. At one time, it was a condition experienced solely by computer programmers and coders but no longer.
Here’s what’s going on: The head, when properly aligned with the neck and looking forward, weighs about 10 pounds. The muscles, bones, and ligaments of the neck are easily holding the head up, and there’s no strain on any part of the neck.
As the head is lowered, such as when looking at the smartphone or tablet, the neck is bending forward and the weight it’s holding increases.
When looking straight down at your phone or tablet, with your chin close to your chest, your neck is now carrying about 60 pounds of weight. This means that the muscles designed to support 10 pounds are now straining to support 60 pounds!
Ouch! It’s no wonder we hurt.
Do You Have Tech Neck?
Most people experience symptoms like soreness or stiffness of the neck and shoulders at the end of the day and don’t view it as a problem, mainly because the pain or stiffness doesn’t happen every day.
The problem is that these symptoms can, and do, get worse over time. If you experience a sore neck, headache, or get numbness and tingling of the fingers every day, you shouldn’t ignore these symptoms.
These symptoms will progress to you losing strength in your fingers and hands if you don’t address them.
When you begin to feel the symptoms, exercises can and will help decrease the pain and soreness in your neck. More importantly, you’ll want to correct your posture while using your mobile devices or laptop. And, limit the time you spend looking down at your devices.
Exercises You Can Try
- Side neck stretch: Sit on a chair and extend your right arm down towards the floor, place your left hand on top of your head, elbow pointing out to the side. Using your left hand, gently pull your head to the left while continuing to keep your right arm extended downward. Hold for 20 seconds then do the same for the other side.
- Chin tuck: Sit on a chair and clasp your hands behind your head. Settle your hips firmly into your seat. Tuck your chin in toward your chest as you use your hands to begin gently pulling your head down until you feel a stretch to the back of your neck and upper back. Hold 20 then slowly release.
- Set aside your mobile device and walk away for 10 minutes: stretch your arms and neck as you move around. This can be done every hour or so and will help relieve the pain
- Correct your bearing: so that you have better posture when using your mobile devices or computer
- Reduce the weight on the bar by 10% and build your way back up.
- Add mobility drills during warm-ups such as thoracic extensions and face pulls.
- Address your bad posture when sitting/sleeping (Try not to sleep on your side or slouch at the computer desk)
If your tech neck symptoms show up every day and include daily headaches, it is time to seek treatment from a medical professional. It’s likely you’ll be prescribed physical therapy.
Don’t just shrug it off
As home-based businesses, we have to be proactive about our health and wellness. It’s easy to spend your entire day sitting at your computer going through countless blog articles or working on client projects without taking a break to stretch or exercise.
Tech neck symptoms won’t go away just because you ignore them. It’s like a toothache; you may feel some relief at times, but the problem is steadily getting worse.
Why not take the lead, track your habits and work to correct any ones that can hurt you? Fight tech neck now so you can minimize the time it’ll take to cure yourself later!
Here’s a great article about stress and taking care of yourself as a VA and home-based business owner. Live your best life; you deserve it.